The great thing about inkjet printers is that they're cheap and they print with a remarkably high level of quality. The bad thing about them is that they're usually designed to be used with a single computer. So what if you have more than one computer and want to be able to print from either of them? It's time for a product like Axis Communications' Axis Print Server 1440, which can put an inkjet printer on your Ethernet network.
The Print Server itself is about the size of a deck of cards, and it attaches directly to your printer's parallel port (no cables required). You then connect the Print Server to your Ethernet hub, and install printer drivers on each computer that will share the printer. (Currently the server supports the Epson Stylus Color 740, 740i, 760, 850, 860, and 1160 and the Epson Stylus Photo 700, 750 and 1200.)
The sharing doesn't stop there. The Print Server can also simultaneously connect with Windows- and UNIX-based computers and can even be assigned an IP number for TCP/IP-based printing.
Setting up the Print Server is painless and extremely easy. We got one up and running in less than 10 minutes.
The Print Server may even be of use if you've got only one Mac. When you print to the Print Server, the device receives your entire print job at once and then relays it to the printer. That frees up your Mac for other tasks. If you've ever printed to a USB printer, you know that it can often slow your Mac to a crawl -- and if you try to do other tasks while you're printing, the print job can also get bogged down.
Macworld's Buying Advice
If you simply want to share a printer with one or more computer at home, even if not all of those computers are Macs, the Axis Print Server 1440 does the job with aplomb. Though it's a bit pricey -- almost as high as the cost of a printer! -- it's worth it if you're tired of shuttling files from one machine to another in order to print, or if you're forced to disconnect and reconnect the printer in order to print.
If you're looking to free up some processor power on your print jobs, the Print Server is more of a luxury item -- though if you're a heavy printer, it might still be worth it.
RATING: PROS: Easy to set up, good cross-platform support. CONS: Somewhat expensive. COMPANY: Axis Communications (978/614-2000, www.axis.com ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $159.